Arezzo – Giostra del Saracino

The Joust of the Saracen (Giostra del Saracino) is a famous medieval costume festival held twice a year in Arezzo, Tuscany. The Giostra del Saracino as it is known among the aretini (inhabitants of Arezzo), is the event that represents at its most the traditions and the history of Arezzo. The Saracen Joust is a historical event with very antique origins: 13th Century documents show how Aretins were fond of jousts and tournaments and the joust was certainly carried out in 1400. Master of Ceremonies of the Saracen Joust in Arezzo. The most ancient document, however,  is a Priors’ resolution stating that the Joust against the Saracen should take place on Sunday and that the prize would be a piece of purple satin. The whole city turns up in medieval costume to recreate the atmosphere of medieval Arezzo as the quarters of the city compete against each other in a joust to win the Golden Lance. Today, there are 8 knights for the 4 quarters of the city – Porta del Foro, San Andrea, Porta Santo Spirito and Porta Crucifera. Each knight gallops on horseback with a wooden lance and aims at the Buratto and its shield. The Burattto is an armor-plated dummy holding a shield that is divided into sectors corresponding to points. The knight has two runs along the lizza (jousting track) that runs obliquely in Piazza Grande, and is won by the Quarter whose knights obtained the most points. The jousting day starts in the morning, when the town’s Herald reads the proclamation of the joust challenge, and then continues with a colorful procession of 350 costumed individuals and 27 horses parading along the streets of Arezzo. The high point of the parade is the blessing of the men-at-arms, which takes place on the steps of the Duomo and is carried out by the Bishop of Arezzo. The joust takes place twice a year on the penultimate Saturday in June and first Sunday in September, with related events on the days around these dates. If you’re in the area at the time, try not to miss this festival. Tickets are required for the actual joust but of course not for the processions.

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